Premium Essay

What Was the Enlightenment and How Did It Influence the Politics of the 19th Century?

In: Historical Events

Submitted By rhubarb101
Words 1324
Pages 6
What was the Enlightenment and how did it influence the politics of the 19th century?
The Enlightenment was, in its simplest sense, a body of writers and writings of 18th century Europe which advocated reason and the belief in human rationality above all else and challenged long-standing values and institutions which were based on traditional and religious beliefs. The political ideas of the Enlightenment, which can be best understood against the backdrop of 18th century absolutism and the dominance of Christian world-views, denounced the ‘divine right of kings’ and called for reform in governance (Gieben and Hall, 1992:23). These were the ideas that influenced 19th century politics, and gradually led to the switch from all-powerful monarchies to the democracies of the modern world.

In this essay I shall give a brief overview of the Enlightenment whilst focusing mainly on its political ideas and put these ideas in context by describing the political landscape of the time. I will then discuss how these political ideas shaped the politics of the 19th century. I will limit myself to looking at the influence of the Enlightenment on European politics as that is where its affect was most sharply felt and was the main location for the Enlightenment movement (Gieben and Hall,1992:72).

The Enlightenment was the emergence of new ways of thinking which came about mainly in 18th century Europe, although Enlightenment ideas can also be seen in the 17th century, for example in the writings of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke. These ways of thinking championed empiricism, reason and universalism; claiming that knowledge can only be gained from what we experience, that all human beings are rational and should base their knowledge on reason and experience, and that these principles should be applied to all situations. Although most Enlightenment thinkers were in favour of...

Similar Documents

Free Essay

Humanism and the Renaissance

...the other hand, national literature is literature written about what goes on in other countries but has no effect on the world rest of the world as a whole. Humanism is one of most important concepts found in the history of world literature. Humanism is an attitude that emphasizes the dignity and worth of the individual. A basic assumption is that people are rational beings who possess within themselves the capacity for truth and goodness. The term humanism is most often used to describe a literary and cultural movement that spread through Western Europe in the 14th and 15th centuries. This Renaissance revival of Greek and Roman studies emphasized the value of the classics for their own sake, rather than for their relevance to Christianity. Humanism is an attitude of the mind that accompanied the progression of the Renaissance. This aspect of humanism, sometimes called the Revival of Antiquity, includes the study of the classics; editorial and philological work on ancient texts. In the beginning, the church controlled literature. Writers could only center their literature on God. Writers couldn’t write about flesh, each other and objects outside the church. People of this time were very uneducated because the church did not value education. They believed that God does the thinking for you. At some point, people started thinking and they wanted to know what literature was like before the church controlled it. What they found opened their eyes and opened the door to the......

Words: 1444 - Pages: 6

Premium Essay

Age of Enlightment

...The Age of Enlightenment The self-proclaimed Age of Enlightenment, also known as the Age of Reason, was a period notable for its substantial cultural and scientific developments, that took place mainly during the eighteenth century. It was a time when the scholarly class of Western Europe left behind Church dogma in the process of formulating philosophical ideas as well as scientific theories. It was substituted with reason. Notably, political ideas that were extremely radical for the time propagated throughout Europe and eventually led to the revolutions of France and the United States. Also, modern science further implanted itself into the mainstream. The roots of the entire movement date back to the time of the great Ancient Greek philosophers and scientists, specifically to such great thinkers as Aristotle and Plato. In Western Europe, from the time of the Middle Ages until then, Aristotelian science had remained the extent of scientific knowledge. It had long been lost due to the chaos of the Dark Ages, but it was “rediscovered” in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries through contact with Muslim influence and Byzantine scholars. During the late years of the Renaissance and the Age of Enlightenment, scholars set out to improve upon Aristotelian and Platonic ideas. [1] The Renaissance gave a basis for the Age of Enlightenment to continue on. The Humanist movement during the Renaissance started to slightly move away from the Church. Although most Humanists......

Words: 2105 - Pages: 9

Free Essay

Why Is the French Revolution Regarded as Such an Important Event in Modern International History?

...Modern society owes much of its origin to a great upheaval in the 18th century, the French Revolution. It was one aspect of a broader pattern of change that, since the Renaissance and Reformation, has set the West on a different path of development from that of the rest of the world. This pattern included the individualism and, in the end, the secularism, that was the Protestant legacy. It also included the rise of science, as a method and as a practice. This culminated in explosive events toward the end of the 18th century. The French Revolution ‘was a phenomenon as awful and irreversible as the first nuclear explosion, and all history has been permanently changed by it.’ The French Revolution is largely regarded as an important event in modern international history because of the way it has had international impact and continued to have international repercussions and influences on society and thought today. This essay will look at different aspects of the French Revolution and discuss how the different components of the revolution have affected the world and the impact of these at the time of the event. For the purposes of this essay the French Revolution will be defined as the insurrection in France that began in 1789 and ended in 1815 with the defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo. The actual dates of the revolution are widely contested but for the purposes of this essay, these dates will be used as a framework. Modern international will be assumed to mean......

Words: 1808 - Pages: 8

Free Essay

World History

...|compare the political theories of Hobbes and Locke | | |explain how science and philosophy influenced one another during the Enlightenment | | |explain the term enlightened despot, using the model of Frederick II of Prussia | | |Click here for the course glossary | | |Click here for a Timeline of The Enlightenment and Scientific Revolution | | |This lesson discusses European society between 1600 and 1800--an era marked by the power of ideas and rational | | |thinking. The term Scientific Revolution is used to describe the growing acceptance and influence of the scientific| | |method and the belief that reason and inquiry can explain and even change the world. The term Enlightenment is | | |perhaps a more accurate name for this period because it incorporates a variety of intellectual movements that today| | |we do not consider sciences: philosophy, theology, economics, history, and political theory. | | |The word scientist did...

Words: 7624 - Pages: 31

Free Essay

Devry Hum 303 Entire Course

...Devry HUM 303 Entire Course (All Discussions+Assignments +Project+Final Exam) IF You Want To Purchase A+ Work then Click The Link Below For Instant Down Load IF You Face Any Problem Then E Mail Us At JOHNMATE1122@GMAIL.COM QuestionCourse project This course will take you through huge chunks of human history from the Paleolithic era through the Vietnam War and into our postmodern world. Your course project will culminate in a nine-ten page paper. Your research paper will require a minimum of five academic-scholarly sources. Both in-text citation and an end reference page as specified by the APA style sheet are required. Scrupulous documentation plus high originality, analysis, insight, and fresh applications of ideas are highly prized. Mere reporting, describing, and finding others’ ideas are discouraged, and plagiarism is grounds for failure. Your paper is to be 70–80% original and 20–30% resourced (documented via Details and milestones follow. Your final grade includes points accumulated for your discussions; proposal; a two-part annotated bibliography; a draft; and a final paper. The following are guidelines to assist you in completing the course successfully. Guidelines for the Proposal (100 points): A proposal offers a detailed and full description of your project (as best you know it at the time of writing) in no more than 2 pages. To succeed,......

Words: 2198 - Pages: 9

Premium Essay

Classical Sociology

...Dustin Jones There were many social theorists from the period of the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. This period of time is regarded as the period of the Enlightenment. A few of the major figures of this particular “movement” were Rene Descartes, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Immanuel Kant. They altered the way in which the social world was viewed and helped pave the way for other classical social theorists to explain the individual’s role in society. Karl Marx, Alexis de Tocqueville, Henri De Saint-Simon, and Emile Durkheim are only the names of a few classical social theorists who set out to explore the role of an individual within society. These men believed that Reason, along with the application of a scientific approach, would be able to positively change the world and break through to a new form of power and authority. Although the ideas and theories of these men give rise to far greater advancement in sociological theory, there is a failure in intuition, and thus, a failure of the classical sociological element. The first section of this paper includes an explanation of classical sociology along with an overview of the theories associated with some of the greatest sociologists of this time. The next section of this paper explores reasons and explanations for the failure of classical social theory and interpretations to why before-mentioned theories were compromised. The final section of this paper summarizes some of the conclusions drawn about......

Words: 2468 - Pages: 10

Free Essay

Guaped Up

...University of Phoenix Material Effects of Mass Media Worksheet Write brief 250-to 300-word answers to each of the following: |Questions |Answers | |What were the major developments in the |In the 21st century, rabid fans could turn their attention to a whole swath of pop stars | |evolution of mass media during the 20th |in | |century? |the making when the reality TV program American Idolhit the airwaves in 2002. The show was| | | | | |the only television program ever to have snagged the top spot in the Nielsen ratings for | | |six | | |seasons in a row, often averaging more than 30 million nightly viewers. Rival television | | |network | | |executives were alarmed, deeming the pop giant “the ultimate schoolyard bully,” “the Death| | ...

Words: 3020 - Pages: 13

Free Essay

Williams and Burke and the Revolution

...Revolution, which took place at the end of the 18th century, was perhaps the most significant revolution in history to date. Not only did it have an enormous impact on politics and social order within France but also across the European continent which was, at that period in history, the fulcrum of civilisation and modernity. A bitter dispute ensued about the French principles of ‘liberty, equality and fraternity’. This essay intends to focus on the impact that the Revolution had on Britain at that time and we will reflect on the influence that literary writings had upon shaping Britain’s views of the revolution and its espoused ideals, and in turn the consequences that they would have on British society into the 19th century. Leading up to the beginning of the French Revolution political and social unrest was spreading in Britain. The country was divided on one argument: the rights of man. On one side of the argument were the radicals who strongly supported a new form of government, that of elective democracy. This group were countered by the loyalists who adamantly opposed such drastic changes and remained allegiant to the church and the monarchy. Loyalists vehemently opposed what they saw as the threat against traditional British values. The radicals were part of a post-enlightenment movement that believed citizenship and its right derived from natural human rights such as that of all men being allowed to take part in politic regardless of their status or background.......

Words: 2495 - Pages: 10

Free Essay


...crusade and discuss the extent to which it accomplished its objectives. Why did it succeed or fail? Jonathan Riley-Smith, The Crusades: A Short History; Carole Hillenbrand, The Crusades: Islamic Perspectives; Christopher Tyerman, God’s War: A New History of the Crusades 2. How did anti-Semitism manifest itself in medieval Europe? Kenneth R. Stow, Alienated Minority: The Jews of Medieval Latin Europe; Mark R. Cohen, Under Crescent and Cross: The Jews in the Middle Ages; Solomon Grayzel, The Church and the Jews in the Thirteenth Century 3. What was the position of prostitutes in medieval society? Ruth Mazo Karras, Common Women; Leah Otis, Prostitution in Medieval Society; Margaret Wade Labarge, A Small Sound of the Trumpet: Women in Medieval Life 4. Why did the French choose to follow Joan of Arc during the the Hundred Years War? Kelly DeVries, Joan of Arc: A Military Leader; Bonnie Wheeler, ed., Fresh Verdicts on Joan of Arc; Margaret Wade Labarge, A Small Sound of the Trumpet: Women in Medieval Life 5. Discuss the significance of siege warfare during the crusades. You may narrow this question down to a single crusade if you wish. Jim Bradbury, The Medieval Siege; Randall Rogers, Latin Siege Warfare in the Twelfth Century; John France, Victory in the East: A Military History of the First Crusade 6. Why did the persecution of heretics increase during the high and later......

Words: 5531 - Pages: 23

Premium Essay

Giving Wings to World Economic Recovery Through Communication Innovations

...ABRIDGED GIVING WINGS TO WORLD ECONOMIC RECOVERY THROUGH MEDIA AND COMMUNICATION INNOVATIONS. BY DR ISAH MOMOH, 16 AUGUST, 2011 Tels: 234 803 196 1363; 802 325 8362; 809 569 3433 Email:;; School of Media and Communication (SMC) Pan African University, 2 Ahmed Onibudo Street, Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria Tels: 01 4616170-2; 2711617-20 Email: Abstract This paper posits that the current economic recovery of the world from the recent economic melt down is largely due more to more honest, humble and sincere forms of communication and similar changes in the global information system. It holds that the pace and strength of recovery and its sustenance would be accelerated by innovations in global communication and information systems as well as orientation towards more honesty, consideration and concern for the world as one global economic, political and environmental system of linked and inter-dependent parts. Traditionally, journalism and mass communication as a whole demand that news and all professional communications be truthful and factual. They require that opinions be clearly stated and separated from facts through the doctrine that “facts are sacred” and “opinions are free”. It has also been the tradition, under the developmental communication theory to insist that news and professional communications as......

Words: 9363 - Pages: 38

Premium Essay


...armed or "hot" conflict. At the end of World War II, at the Yalta Conference, Germany was divided into four occupied zones controlled by Great Britain, France, the Soviet Union, and the United States. Berlin was also divided into four sections. Lack of a mutual agreement on German re-unification was a important background of the Cold War. And on March 5, 1946, Winston Churchill, gave his "iron curtain" speech while at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, which marked the start of the Cold War. The cold war did not end until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. During this period, the United States and the USSR confronted each other in politics, economy, ideology, and so on. And they nearly divided this world into two camps, socialist camp and capitalist camp, what made the conflict on ideology especially sharp. Every incident in the world could not happened without reasons, and the original cause may happened quite long ago. So there are long term causes and short causes of the Cold War. One of the short term causes is that the US President had a personal dislike of the Soviet leader Josef Stalin. At the Potsdam Conference starting in late July 1945, serious differences emerged over the future development of Germany and Eastern Europe. At Potsdam, the US was represented by a new president, Harry S. Truman, who on April 12 succeeded to the office upon Roosevelt's death. Truman was unaware of Roosevelt's plans for post-war engagement with the Soviet Union, and......

Words: 6578 - Pages: 27

Premium Essay

Public Health Paper, the enlightenment, the Sanitarians, national provision of services, the inception of the National Health Service, ‘crisis in health’, The New Right, The Third Way, new public health. Public health, the new ideology may be taken to mean the promotion of healthy lifestyles linked to behaviour and individual responsibility supported by government action; whereas traditionally the description tended to relate more to sanitary reform and ‘healthy conditions’. The chronological development of public health is mapped out, supported by the outlining and discussion of the emerging themes and influences pertaining to the study of public health. The approach to public health is positioned alongside the health of the population and the prevailing political/societal influence at the time. Public health is impacted on by poverty and environmental factors. Presently government policy to improve public health is delivered in a strategy that recognises the need for health improvement at times when the greatest impact on health is poverty and exclusion. The evidence reviewed demonstrates clearly that poor health without appropriate resources or intervention is cumulative and that the ‘right’ form of intervention can bring about long term health gains. Intervention from a national agenda needs to include individual’s health and the health of the community brought about through joint partnerships and multi-sectorial working. The environment Historically, the environment was......

Words: 12259 - Pages: 50

Premium Essay


...non-state actors * Not all conflict is between states, much if not most is below the level of state-state conflict * Conflict maybe driven by man interests- ethnic conflict, material resources, land * Cooperation * Lots of Conflict and lots of Cooperation * Examples * Cooperation focused on economic issues, why? * All sides gain from economic exchange so it literally pays to cooperate * Is cooperation or conflict the natural state? * Economic cooperation mitigates conflict * Globalization or Fragmentation? * France-Germany and the European Union * Free trade agreements and NAFTA * What is Globalization * Examples: * Increasing level interconnectedness * What it means for international relations * More interdependence * Cultural aspects, both positive and negative * Is globalization a new phenomena * Less and less dialogue more usual stuff happening * 50 million died as a result 1918 Spanish Flu and parallels to Ebola Virus * Fragmentation * EU- Lack of defining borders * Europe as example- integration into EU has diminished power of national governments * Regional identities have become stronger: example- Scotland and Wales * Not all peaceful- Yugoslavia * Globalization can lead to integration but also fragmentation...

Words: 3407 - Pages: 14

Premium Essay


...| Course SyllabusCollege of HumanitiesHIS/115 Version 3U.S. History to 1865 | Copyright © 2011, 2009, 2008 by University of Phoenix. All rights reserved. Course Description This course provides an overview of the social, political, economic, and global events that have shaped the American scene from colonial times through the Civil War period. Policies Faculty and students/learners will be held responsible for understanding and adhering to all policies contained within the following two documents: University policies: You must be logged into the student website to view this document. Instructor policies: This document is posted in the Course Materials forum. University policies are subject to change. Be sure to read the policies at the beginning of each class. Policies may be slightly different depending on the modality in which you attend class. If you have recently changed modalities, read the policies governing your current class modality. Course Materials Schultz, K. M. (2012). HIST2, Volume 1 (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning. All electronic materials are available on the student website. Week One: Contact, Settlement, Slavery | | Details | Due | Points | Objectives | 1.1 Describe the clash of cultures that took place in North America between the Native Americans, colonists, and Black slaves. 1.2 Describe the establishment of early colonies. 1.3 Describe the development of regional differences among......

Words: 3896 - Pages: 16

Premium Essay

Classical Realism

...I-Introduction: The term "realism" was first used to formulate the philosophical doctrine that "universals exist outside of the mind" (Freyberg-Inan, 1). Yet, in political theory, "realism" represents a school of thought that analyzes the political process as it is or as it is disclosed by historical forces " ... that the able political practitioner takes into account ... and incorporates ... into his political conceptions and his political acts "(Ibid, 1-2). In the field of international relations, realism became the dominant analytical paradigm mostly after the start of the Second World War, when it displaced idealist doctrines, promising "to provide more accurate information, more powerful, and more relevant answers" to the roots or causes of peace and war (Brecher& Harvey, 54). At the same time, many features of the current realist paradigm can be traced back to the time of Thucydides, Niccolo Machiavelli and Thomas Hobbes. Among contemporary thinkers recognized as major writers and contributors to the realist tradition are Hans Morgenthau, Edward Carr and Kenneth Waltz (Freyberg-Inan, 8). What are then the basic tenets or common features of a realist thinker? Machiavelli would acknowledge that to be a realist one has to look at history as "a sequence of cause and effect whose course can be analysed and understood by intellectual effort, but not directed by imagination" (Carr, 64). Hobbes would persist in the same train of thought and insist that to be a realist......

Words: 17639 - Pages: 71